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9 Things Successful People Do When Playing Games

9 Things Successful People Do When Playing Games

Most competitive games require players to use some sort of skill to gain an edge against their opponents. Even games as simple as Go Fish or Rock, Paper, Scissors can be beaten using strategy and planning (in fact, Rock, Paper, Scissors is much more complex than you might think). Players of almost any game in human history can find a way to gain an advantage over their opponent to maximize their chances of winning. Here is how the most successful people get that done.

They project confidence

Before even becoming invested in getting good at a game, players must be confident in their abilities. I know for an absolute fact that I’ll never be a great soccer player; it might be this lack of confidence that keeps me from even trying. But, I’m definitely capable of being a winning chess or poker player, and this confidence has helped me approach both games in such a way that I don’t rely on dumb luck to win. I’ve used this confidence as a springboard to help me get even better at the cerebral games I’ve always had a knack for.

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They understand the rules

Even simple games such as Sorry! have lesser known rules that, if you know them but your opponent does not, can help you win. Using Sorry! as an example, if you pick a seven card, you are allowed to “split” your move between two pieces (one can move three spaces, and another four, for example). While it sounds pretty inconsequential, knowing this rule comes in handy when you know you have to move an exact number of spaces to get a piece into your home base. In a game like football, a defensive player must know the exact difference between a clean block and holding, or else he will never succeed at stopping the blitz without being penalized.

They study strategy

Once you have a true understanding of the rules to the game, you need to understand the strategy behind winning it. Whatever game you are getting into, there are almost unlimited resources online which you can use to your advantage (there is even a strategy to winning Guess Who?, if you can believe it). The best part about learning strategy is that all games are staggered in difficulty depending on your understanding of them. A game like chess is a perfect example. A five-year-old can learn some basic strategy to the game, like how to best protect the king from early attacks, and can use this strategy to beat players who don’t use this strategy. However, as the child grows, he will find the same strategy does not work against more seasoned players, and he will be forced to improve his own strategy in order to continue winning.

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They practice

Along with studying strategy, players must put the strategy into practice. Michael Jordan once (at least once) sunk a free throw with his eyes closed during a game. This wasn’t just something he could magically do; he obviously spent hours upon hours making sure he could make almost every single free throw he ever took. And let’s be serious: practicing free throws for hours on end could not possibly have been fun. But he perfected his shot, and that’s why we consider him the best basketball player of all time. Successful people practice every aspect of their craft until they can literally do it blindfolded.

They exercise

Along with practicing, you must exercise to train in preparation for a game. Exercising doesn’t necessarily have to be directly related to the game you are preparing for, but it should strengthen something within you that will help you during play. Weight training, running, or swimming will definitely help you in an athletic event, while completing logic puzzles and problems will help expand your mind before a “mind game.” Keeping your mind and body sharp before a competition allows you to easily maintain an equilibrium, think critically, and adapt to changes in the game.

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They stay positive

The old saying is true: quitters never win, and winners never quit. It should be noted that in that saying, there is nothing about winners never losing. You will definitely face setbacks; there’s no denying that. It’s important to keep your eyes on your goal when you face a loss, or an injury, or any outside factor that inhibits your ability. Winners push past a loss or a disappointment, knowing it’s only a blip on the radar. On the other hand, a loss is not just a blip if it’s what keeps you from playing ever again; it defines you as a loser for the rest of your days.

They follow models

The most successful competitors are inspired by those who came before them. They are not only inspired by them, but are driven by them. Competitors study how their idols perform, and seek not only to emulate them, but to eventually surpass them. They learn what regimens their idols followed and what strategies they utilized, and use this information to maximize their own potential. Not only does studying professionals from the past help the competitor progress, but in doing so, helps the game evolve as well.

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They study past performances

Athletes and competitors not only study others, but themselves as well. Every good athlete studies their past performances to see what they did right, and what they did wrong. The most successful poker players analyze crucial hands that either made or lost a lot of money, to see if there’s any way they can change their play in the future. One of the reasons chess players are so successful is not simply because they’re “good at chess”; they’re good because they’ve spent hours and hours studying past moves, and because of this know exactly what to do when they get into a certain situation. Of course, it’s incredibly important to look at past performances not to beat yourself up, but to keep progressing each time you compete.

They have fun

Pros have fun, too. Why do you think they do what they do for a living? Now, this doesn’t suggest that pros just go out and have a blast; it’s a more controlled type of fun, but it’s fun nonetheless. Professionals talk about getting “in the zone,” going on a hot streak that can’t be beat. Of course, they also go through slumps (baseball players, especially). Something to note is that whenever hitters go into these week-long doldrums, getting maybe one hit every five games, their coaches ultimately tell them to forget about it, stop being so nervous, and just have fun. Usually, taking pressure off of themselves instead of putting more on is what helps them gain their stride back. Even though professionals should take their career seriously, they should always remember to simply enjoy themselves.

Featured photo credit: Racquetball Player Ball Dive Hit Return Play/skeeze via pixabay.com

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

When you train your brain, you will:

  • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
  • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
  • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

1. Work your memory

Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

For example, say you just met someone new:

“Hi, my name is George”

Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

Got it? Good.

2. Do something different repeatedly

By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

But how does this apply to your life right now?

Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

3. Learn something new

It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

4. Follow a brain training program

The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

5. Work your body

You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

6. Spend time with your loved ones

If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

7. Avoid crossword puzzles

Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

The bottom line

Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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